Sheldon Richman on Government's Role in Income Inequality


Income inequality is back in the news, propelled by an Oxfam International report and President Barack Obama's State of the Union address. The question is whether government needs to do something about this—or whether government needs to undo many things.

Measuring income inequality is no simple thing, which is one source of disagreement between those who think inequality is a problem and those who think it isn't. But it is possible to cut through the underbrush and make some points clear.

We can identify two kinds of economic inequality, notes Sheldon Richman, and government favoritism causes one of them. Let's keep this in mind as we contemplate what, if anything, government ought to do.